Shawn Meville aspires to make school a positive and empowering experience at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School when he begins his newly appointed role as vice-principal on Aug. 1, 2019.
“There’s a lot of really good things that are happening with and for kids in our community,” he says, “but there’s also lots of struggles that kids are having and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to try and help kids work through those things.”
Meville, who fulfilled the role in a temporary capacity for the 2017/2018 term, said this past year has been “eye-opening.”
For some students, he said, school is an ordeal that they have to get through. “Learning isn’t fun and learning isn’t empowering, so for those kids school is a real challenge.”
He sees many students also struggling with anxiety.
They had an assembly at the beginning of the past school year, where they asked who had to leave their homes because of the wildfires. Three-quarters of the school raised their hands, he said.
“I don’t think it’s the only reason that caused anxiety within our school this year, but I would say it is one of the contributing factors.”
Meville said he’s already begun working to change the school culture – trying to help students understand how words and actions affect other people.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve had fantastic success with it – it’s going to be a four or five-year process to do that – but it’s been our main focus this year,” he said.
He said he believes the change is possible over the long term.
In the meantime, Meville and his family are moving to Quebec for one year, to enroll his daughter in French Canadian public school.
“She’s a French Immersion student and we’d like to give her the gift of language and French Canadian culture,” he said.
Meville will also be taking the year to complete his master’s degree in educational leadership through the University of Roehampton – something he’d been planning to do for the last four years.
He said he looks forward to getting back, working with everyone at PSO and continuing to affect positive change.
In the meantime, Doug Brown has been appointed vice-principal for the upcoming school year. Brown was formerly employed at the Prince Rupert School District where he worked as a teacher and administrative assistant over the past 10 years.